Petrus Augustus de Génestet’s ‘Peaen to the Netherlands’

By | 1 August 2017

Peter Augustus de Génestet (1829-1861) was a Dutch poet, theologian and preacher. Having lost his widowed mother to TB early in life, he was brought up by his uncle, a well-known artist. He studied theology in Amsterdam with the Remonstrant Brotherhood, a denomination that had broken away from the Dutch Reformed Church, and became a liberal Protestant preacher in Delft.

De Génestet was among the most popular poets of his time, publishing several volumes of verse that was widely appreciated for its musicality, and often for its humour. Yet his short life was marked by tragedy. TB took his much-loved wife, Henriëtte, and one of his four children. De Génestet died of the same illness aged just thirty-one.

Peaen to the Netherlands

Oh, land of bogs and fogs, of drizzle dreich and chill
You soggy scrap of ground, imbued with damp and day-dew
Immeasurably mired, your muddy roads have drunk their fill;
You heave with gout and toothache, with overcoats and ague!

Oh, dreary land of marshes, land of spats and overshoes,
Of dredgers, frogs and cobblers – where it either rains or freezes –
Land of ducks of every species and of any size you choose,
Hear the plaint of this your scion with his autumn coughs and sneezes!

Your climate, so inclement, turns my very blood to sludge:
I have no song, no appetite; no joy, and yet no patience.
Oh, blest land of my fathers, don your gaiters for a trudge!
Country wrested – unrequested – from the briny by the ancients.

– Nov. 1851

Boutade Oh land van mest en mist, van vuile, koude regen, Doorsijperd stukske grond, vol kille dauw en damp, Vol vuns, onpeilbaar slijk en ondoorwaadbre wegen, Vol jicht en paraplu’s, vol kiespijn en vol kramp! O saaie brij-moeras, o erf van overschoenen, Van kikkers, baggerlui, schoenlappers, moddergoôn, Van eenden groot en klein, in allerlei fatsoenen, Ontvang het najaarswee van uw verkouden zoon! Uw kliemerig klimaat maakt mij het bloed in de aderen Tot modder; ‘k heb geen lied, geen honger, vreugd noch vreê. Trek overschoenen aan, gewijde grond der Vaderen, Gij – niet op mijn verzoek – ontwoekerd aan de zee. – Nov. 1851
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